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  1. #1
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    Damping/Flex: Answer ProTaper Carbon vs Aluminum vs Enve DH vs Easton Havoc Carbon

    I'm looking for a new set of handlebars. My current bars (ODI Flight Control 750) feel really rigid and harsh over longer rides. I want to get something that will take a bit of the beating out of my wrists/hands. I know that people are going to post about looking into different grips, changing bar angles, and tuning suspension before getting new bars, but rest assured, I have already done everything I can think of. No changes have brought much relief, other than softening the fork to the point that it isn't really usable. I had the same setup on my previous bike, the only difference being the bars, and I had no wrist issues at all so that's why I believe the bars to be the culprit. After an hour and a half of riding, I can barely actuate my levers my wrists are so numb.

    My question therefore is, which of these bars would you (or wouldn't you) recommend in order to get some flex/damping, but still remain durable? I'm particularly interested in the ProTaper Carbon vs Aluminum, as I've heard that the aluminum version has a bit more flex than the average aluminum bars. And when I say durable, I do know about the durability/risks/benefits of carbon bars. I'm an engineer and have worked with carbon for over a decade. I trust it from companies like Enve, Easton, and Answer. Anyway, that's my question. Thanks much in advance.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
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  2. #2
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    Carbon is always going to be more resilient/better damped than aluminum, so if that's what you're after, give it a shot.

    Otherwise, I had a pair of KORE bars that were 2014 aluminum, and they had a fair amount of flex and damping to them...better than the Raceface atlas bars that replaced them and are made of 7050. You may still be able to find the Kore bars around though. 6061 should be more flexy than 7050 too, but handlebars are not a place to really mess around with what I would consider an inferior alloy from a handlebar....all those cranks you see bent are 6061.

    Steer clear of 35mm.

    I know you said how you've tried other things, but it may be worth considering alternative grips. I got a lot of relief by switching from hand-destroying plastic cored lock-ons, and getting half-rubber half-plastic WTBs or RavX grips, which offer no less traction. Also, double check that your fork is working right. A lot of my hand numbness came from a garbage RS Boxxer that ended up getting recalled. My actually functional marzocchi suspension took a lot of the sting out of downhilling.

  3. #3
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    thanks for the reply. I did actually try new grips, foregoing my usual (and admittedly very thin) ODI Ruffian lock-ons. I've never had any issues with the lock-ons before, and switching temporarily to a nice and gushy pair of grips did very little to alleviate it. I really think it is coming from the bar, or possibly the fork. I'll tear the fork apart and have a look. Not expecting to find anything though, as I service it quite regularly.

    Good info on the aluminum alloys. I work with 7075 every day in the production of carabiners, and it is far better than the cheaper but generic 6061. It's interesting that Kore went with 2014. That's a pretty rare alloy, especially in the biking world. We use 2024 in a few products, but very rarely.

    Regarding 35mm, are they breaking/unreliable? I haven't been following that 'new standard' closely at all. I see it as the same thing as the 15mm axle: unnecessary, given the options already on the table.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
    rck18: All of them, because they're meat.

  4. #4
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    Early reports have suggested that 35mm bars are like super mega stiff. Might be a bad way to go for somebody looking for MORE bar flex.

    I had the 2014 alloy Kore Torsions. Universal Cycles -- Kore Torsion Race Riser Bar They were 800mm, which was huge, but you can cut them down if you want. Since the 2011 model, they switched to 6061 apparently, so I don't know how that affects them. Wider bars will offer more flex too, so if you aren't set on 750s, simply swapping to 780s or even 8hundos will add flex.

    Grips are of course a personal thing, and if you've been through this then I won't lecture. I tried a variety of grips to get rid of numbness (usually go with ODI intense, which are awesome, but switched to ergon GA1, then RavX triple compound, and am now on WTB octagon thingees). The ergons were terrible, and combined with a fork filled with rocks, it didn't help my hands at all. It sounds like your fork is working though, so it may just be micro vibrations through the bar that are causing your problems.

  5. #5
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    Have you tried ergonomic grips like Ergons? Specialized and Serfas also have versions.

    Also, I have seen people in the past with this complaint where the real problem was bike set up. For example, seat tilted forward, or bars too low, causing too much weight shift forward, being supported by arms and hands. Maybe you can experiment with your set up to move your center of gravity back a little bit to take some pressure off your bars.

    I like the dampening characteristics of carbon, but its only going to do so much.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by charging_rhinos View Post
    My question therefore is, which of these bars would you (or wouldn't you) recommend in order to get some flex/damping, but still remain durable?
    I had to do some digging, but I thought this review really nailed what is important in a hbar and did a great job of breaking it down and comparing 4 of the popular options.
    Best Mountain Bike Handlebars | Blister Gear Review ? Skis, Snowboards, Mountain Bikes, Climbing - The most honest, and in-depth reviews of ski, board, bike, and climbing equipment on the planet.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for that link. It was interesting that the guy said he was sold on the concept that a more flexible bar would lead to more hand fatigue. I can see his point, but I don't know whether that is the case or if a stiffer bar transfers more vibration directly to the rider's hands. I'll have to do more reading on that one. I'm starting to hear my wallet whimper over the prospect of some Enve bars...
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
    rck18: All of them, because they're meat.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by charging_rhinos View Post
    Thanks for that link. It was interesting that the guy said he was sold on the concept that a more flexible bar would lead to more hand fatigue. I can see his point, but I don't know whether that is the case or if a stiffer bar transfers more vibration directly to the rider's hands. I'll have to do more reading on that one. I'm starting to hear my wallet whimper over the prospect of some Enve bars...
    Just get some RF atlas bars if price is THE determinate. I picked some up for the FR build this year.

  9. #9
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    Price isn't the main determiner. I will pay an extra 80 bucks if I can get something that will alleviate this and allow me to ride hard all day.

    Does anyone have experience with answer pro taper aluminum bars? I was told that they had a damp feeling compared to many other models, and this was true in the mx world when they first came out.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
    rck18: All of them, because they're meat.

  10. #10
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    I will have a review for you on Monday. I just installed a pair of 2012 7050 protapers to replace the KORE bars. The bike will change slightly, but the fork wheel and tire should all stay the same (plus grips), so maybe I'll notice something.

  11. #11
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    Hey so as promised, an update.

    I dig these bars. They aren't as flexy as my Kores, I don't think, but combined with the 888 that actually absorbs small bumps (thanks rockshox), my hands had no numbness all weekend long. I can't say that it's only the bars, as my fork works really well and I use rubber grips instead of plastic, but my friends were complaining about hands cramps all day, while I was just chilling.

    Again, high volume tires, a good fork, rubber grips, close levers on good brakes, but the bars were not noticeably worse.

  12. #12
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    esi extra chunky

  13. #13
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    I have the ODI Flight Control 700 on one of my bikes and it's definitely not fun for long rides, it feels stiff as hell and seems to transfer every impact right into my hands. It's not a real issue for the first hour or two, but more than that and it starts to hurt a bit. So no, it's not just you, and the bars are indeed to blame.

    I've generally used Easton and Race Face bars on my bikes, though I have tried out various other bars over the years. I've ridden Answer's XC oriented aluminum and carbon bars on a friend's bike and they certainly feel nice, they feel similar to the Easton bars in that they have a bit of flex to take the edge off the impacts & trail vibrations. I don't know if their DH bars are the same way since I haven't ridden them yet, but I'd suspect they are.

    I'd say stay away from Race Face's aluminum AM and DH bars, their XC bars are great but I find their other bars are just too stiff and transmit too much of the impact & vibration through to the hands. The exception is their SixC carbon bar, I haven't had a chance to get a really long ride on it yet but so far it feels pretty good for the 2.5 hour ride which was the longest I've been on it so far. I think Easton's carbon bars have a slight edge in comfort while the SixC feels noticeably stiffer than the Haven Carbon and about the same as the Havoc Carbon.

  14. #14
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    Has anyone tried carbon bars? , and noticed an actual difference? I'm very interested.
    I also don't understand why people say carbon gives you comfort with road bikes too, I have often heard that... Is it not super stiff?
    Does it matter the type of carbon eg ud or 3k? or the taper?

  15. #15
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    Carbon diffenently has more dampening effect and I like a lot, but the price of carbon just is not worth it to me when there are aluminum bars available that have good dampening qualities also. If I were looking to buy a alloy bar right now my short list would be Syntace Vector DH, Thomson DH, Funn Fat Boy DH (have), Shimano Pro DH.

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    Drth Vadr, cool what carbon bars did you test, did you test in a bike park with lots of braking bumps thats really what kills me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaner View Post
    Drth Vadr, cool what carbon bars did you test, did you test in a bike park with lots of braking bumps thats really what kills me.
    I've used what now seems like eons ago were the old Easton Monkey Lite carbon DH bar and Syncros Bulk DH bar. Both were not super light by todays standards and when a 710mm carbon bar was wide. The Syncros were great, best bar I ever used when it came to comfort. The Easton were good, but everything was hi-rise back then and just didn't suit me. I'm not qualified to to say how they performed through repeated rockgarden runs, but they seemed to soak up the chadder of heavy roots.
    One of these days I'll give a new age super wide carbon bar a try. A carbon fabricator I was talking to about 2 months ago stated he would always buy todays carbon bars before alloy. At the time he had just make the switch and was loving the Easton Havoc 750 bar.

  18. #18
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    I have Easton Havoc DH, and Enve AM carbon. I have had the Monkeylite carbon in the past as well. IMO the new bars are all so damn stiff they may be too stiff for you. The difference between carbon and aluminum is night and day, although they are both stiff, they 'feel' different. Carbon is kinda boring and dead feeling. My RF Atlas, and Spank bars are lively and 'fun'.

    If I wanted to get something that was going to save my wrists, I would get Easton XC if the width and strength was good enough for you. Otherwise a softer aluminum like an AM 6061 bar.

    FWIW the ENVE AM and Easton Havoc DH are about the same stiffness, in fact I would wager the ENVE AM is stiffer.
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  19. #19
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    I made the change from answer pro taper at 760 to enve DH and there is a noticeable difference. Not dramatic but certainly there on rougher and longer rides.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmd1981 View Post
    I made the change from answer pro taper at 760 to enve DH and there is a noticeable difference. Not dramatic but certainly there on rougher and longer rides.
    A mate reported less wrist pain with the stiffer 35mm bars from easton. Less twanging going on he said. Ymmv.

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